Today marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix, who single-handedly revolutionized the electric guitar during his short life.
Hendrix was just 27 when he died tragically at a London hotel on September 18, 1970. The rock legend asphyxiated on his own vomit after taking an apparent accidental overdose of barbiturates.
Hendrix’s inventive and dexterous playing, along with his experimentation with effects and feedback, his charismatic stage persona and his flamboyant style, helped make him one of the most revered and influential rock artists of all time.
Born in Seattle on November 27, 1942, Jimi honed his musicianship as a sideman for such artists at Little Richard and The Isley Brothers before forming his own band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, after moving to the U.K. in late 1966.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience only released three studio albums while Jimi was alive — 1967’s Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold as Love, and 1968’s Electric Ladyland — but those records continue to inspire and challenge listeners and musicians to this day.
Hendrix also was considered among the most dynamic live performers in rock history. Among his legendary performances were sets at the 1967 Monterey Pop festival and 1969’s Woodstock Festival, the latter of which featured Jimi’s iconic rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Hendrix was inducted posthumously into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1992. In June 2017, he was honored with his own memorial park in Seattle.
Jimi’s sister, Janie Hendrix, helps oversee his music and legacy through the Experience Hendrix company, which regularly issues archival studio and live releases. The latest, a documentary titled Hawaii, Music, Money, Madness…Jimi Hendrix in Maui, and a companion album, Live in Maui, will be released on November 20.
By Matt Friedlander
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